It’s been a momentous year, in spite of Covid. What I learned is that life goes on despite the obstacles. And that a benefit of growing older is finding that life is good, full of gifts and opportunities. So yes, there were many pleasures of 2021.
I hope that you too have blossomed during this time. We writers do need our time alone for writing, processing and planning. A pandemic can help get work done, right?
Here are the biggest joys of the year for me:
1. The fourth edition of Will Write for Food debuted.
What a thrill to have a new edition, updated with what’s most important to food writers and bloggers now. I wrote a new chapter on voice and how to strengthen it. There was lots more to say about publishing, especially self-publishing and how it has changed. I had to discuss social media too, which is a challenge for many of us.
There was more to say about recipe development and testing and my pet peeves (don’t get me started on “salt to taste.”) And more people than ever want to make a good income as a food blogger, influencer or media magnate, so I expanded the chapter on money. I got lots of good insider information from people with an entrepreneurial mindset.
Some of the talks that resulted:
- Interview with David Lebovitz for Book Larder bookstore. We had a blast, and more than 300 people attended.
- Will Write for Food – How to Make Money by Writing about Food with Dianne Jacob. I spoke with Bjork Ostrum, the brains behind Food Blogger Pro, about how recipe content online has changed, how much you can expect to make from writing a cookbook, whether you can get a cookbook deal without a following, and how paid newsletters work (includes a transcript of the podcast).
- A podcast interview by memoir coach and author Marion Roach Smith, “How We Find Our Writer’s Voice, with Dianne Jacob.” We spoke about writing technique, fear of writing, and making space for it.
- A very fun interview with cookbook author Virginia Willis.
2. I started a Substack paid newsletter.
I’ve been writing a free newsletter for food writers and bloggers for more than a decade. That’s still going strong. This year I added a paid option because we writers are trying to be more entrepreneurial about being paid directly for our work. For paid subscribers there’s another monthly post that features interviews with the big names in our industry, and opportunities to chat with me about what you’re working on. It’s been a bit of an experiment. But since I’ve been in the publishing industry for so long, I have lots to discuss and share with you.
I appreciate all the friends and allies who jumped in to support me. It means the world to me. Thank you.
3. I taught virtually to people around the world.
Covid made in-person teaching impossible, but a silver lining prevailed: English speakers outside the US joined my Zoom classes from Canada, Europe, South Africa, and Australia. I taught on writing your first cookbook, how to jumpstart your book proposal, and a 92nd Street Y general class on food writing.
Some of the students bonded and started their own Facebook group. We all need support for our projects, including people cheering us on who also want the same thing: a published book.
I’ll have more Zoom classes next year, listed on my Events page and in my newsletter.
4. My blog turned 12.
This last year I produced almost 100 posts. As you might have noticed, many were by guest posters. I like to give others in our industry a platform when they add to the conversations that go on in our business. Topics included self-publishing, book promotion, recipe writing and trends. The most commented-upon posts were:
- How SEO Rules for Food Blogs Can Make Them Less Effective, by me
- Is 1/2 tablespoon the New Recipe Measurement?, by me
- Why I’m Not Concerned About SEO, by Jean of Delightful Repast
- Why Food Bloggers Don’t Just “Stick to Recipes,” by Vicky Cohen and Ruth Fox
- How to Avoid Cultural Appropriation in Food Writing, by Nandita Godbole
- Is a Work-for-Hire Cookbook Worth It?, by Aneesha Gupta
- Why I Won’t Self-Publish a Cookbook Again, by Sara Bir.
Thanks for being a blog reader. Let me know if you have an idea for a guest post.
5. Many friends lifted my spirits.
We moved house and I broke my ankle I broke my ankle. In that order. I’ve already been immobile for several weeks and now I’m in a cast for the next month. Followed by a boot, physical therapy, and… getting back to normal, I hope.
But the best thing happened: so many friends came by with homemade and restaurant food. Their company has lifted my spirits, and their generosity is overwhelming. Who knew that such a good thing could come from an injury? Someone has come here almost every day, so there has been lots of laughter, conversation, and good eats. I’m going to write more about it in my January newsletter.
And so, friends, what are you grateful for at the end of this year? What were your pleasures of 2021? Let’s celebrate the good that happened and the joys in your life, both professional and personal. There’s so much to be thankful for, even in a pandemic.